A new law on foreigners recently entered into force in Montenegro. The law was introduced to Parliament after being modified in the light of an expert Opinion provided by the Special Representative on migration and refugees, Tomáš Boček, in November 2017.
The modified text includes improvements in the provisions concerning access to territory, which afford certain protection against pushbacks at the border and some procedural safeguards for appeals, required under Articles 2, 3 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The text also now requires authorities to assess the implications of an expulsion decision on the private and family life of the individual concerned, as required by Article 8 of the Convention. It moreover includes a requirement to consider the best interests of the child in any decision concerning an unaccompanied child’s removal. A particularly welcome amendment of the text concerns the introduction of a requirement to assess whether alternatives to detention should be applied before any decision to detain a person for migration purposes is taken. The law also now provides for a complaint mechanism concerning conditions of detention and ill-treatment while in detention. Finally, the adopted text contains more detailed provisions on stateless persons, their travel documents and their right to stay. Some of the points raised in the Opinion have not been fully addressed in the adopted law but overall the legislation represents positive progress in the protection of migrants’ human rights in Montenegro.
The Council of Europe had been asked by the Minister of Interior of Montenegro to provide an opinion on the compliance of the draft law with its values and standards, particularly in the field of migration. The Opinion was based on advice from three independent experts in the framework of the European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey. Aside from an analysis of the human rights implications of the draft text, the Opinion also discussed the proposed new provisions on statelessness.
The new law entered into force on 19 February 2018 and an English version is now available.